The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge Details

TitleThe Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 25th, 2018
PublisherCandlewick Press
ISBN-139780763698225
Rating
GenreFantasy, Childrens, Middle Grade, Humor, Young Adult, Fiction, Sequential Art, Graphic Novels

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge Review

  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    If history is written by the winners then what happens when everyone loses?In my job I read a lot of books written for kids and middle schoolers. To guide this reading I take into account a lot of professional reviews from sources like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and the like. If a book gets multiple stars, I flag it for my To Be Read pile. This is a good, effective method for finding great books but it is not without its flaws. I am in constant danger of Realistic Fi If history is written by the winners then what happens when everyone loses?In my job I read a lot of books written for kids and middle schoolers. To guide this reading I take into account a lot of professional reviews from sources like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and the like. If a book gets multiple stars, I flag it for my To Be Read pile. This is a good, effective method for finding great books but it is not without its flaws. I am in constant danger of Realistic Fiction Burnout (RFB). RFB comes when an adult subject has been exposed to a large number of children's books involving realistic characters in realistic settings, all set in the present day. If I have to read one more bullying, school bus, lunchroom scene I’m going to melt into a large, rather unattractive puddle. I read outside my comfort zone, but truth be told I just wish I was reading more fantasy and science fiction. Those are my sweet spots. So when I just can’t take it anymore and the world is just too depressing and real, I turn to something like The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge for relief. Essentially a book that takes a Tolkien concept and wraps it up in a healthy bit of Cold War paranoia, M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin have created what has to be the kookiest interpretation of Middle Earth-esque events to hit the children’s book scene since Ben Hatke’s Nobody Likes a Goblin. This book’s like that only longer and with a plot that feels like what you’d get if you combined The Rite of Spring with Yakety Sax. If that and the concept of a fantastical buddy comedy between an elf and a goblin (who are both historical academics) done in the visual vein of Brian Selznick appeals, then buddy have I got the book for you.Open this book. It’s the darndest thing. The first thing you really see is what looks like a large, floating, warty Faberge egg. As you watch, the egg opens to reveal a jewel inside. And inside the jewel are grotesque carvings of a battle, pieces of fighters so inundated with spears and arrows that it resembles nothing so much as a pile of Pick Up Stix. That’s the Prologue, but Chapter One is equally visual. Now we are in a strange kingdom where elves load one of their companions into a barrel. He is handed the warty egg then launched into the sky, whereupon his vessel is plucked from the ether by a three-headed bird. This is where the text comes in and it is split in two. On the one hand we have the epistolary missives of the elf Ysoret Clivers, the Earl of Lunesse, who is dictating how an ancient artifact was found in Elfland and is now being sent with academic historical Brangwain Spurge to the land of the goblins to present to their leader as a peace offering. The other narrative follows Werfel the Archivist, the goblin historian who will be hosting Spurge, and who couldn’t be more pleased with the honor. A tentative peace has been laid between the two hostile countries and Werfel believes no one is better suited to treat his guest than he. But things don’t go exactly to plan. Alternating between text and images that represent Spurge’s point of view (which is not exactly reliable) readers receive a palpable understanding of what happens when two entirely different cultures have to fight through false assumptions and propaganda to reach a solid friendship.There is an art to a good unreliable narrator. I suppose someone somewhere has probably written rules on the subject. First and foremost, the author has to decide whether or not they want to let the reader in on the narrator’s skewed p.o.v. from the start (think Timmy Failure) or if they want the reader to experience a kind of creeping suspicion and dread as they read (think Pale Fire). What sets Brangwain Spurge apart from the pack is that you’re dealing far less with an unreliable narrator’s words and more an unreliable narrator’s eyes. In fact, aside from the occasional letter from Earl of Lunesse, all thoughts come directly from the brain of the incredibly kind-hearted Werfel. But look how the book is set up. From the moment you open it you encounter not anyone’s words, but the images of Yelchin. Images that consistently undermine Werfel’s testimony. It’s as if the creators of the book are challenging young readers to question everything, even their own eyes. Why is it that we are so inclined to believe what we see over what we hear? We know better in the 21st century than we ever did in the 20th that images are unreliable. That they can be twisted and turned and changed to fit our needs. So here we have a book that takes a Brian Selznick style (more on him in a moment) and then slowly reveals to the reader that these pictures are frauds. The unreliable visual narrator is a new creation in children’s books, as far as I’m concerned. New, and extraordinarily vital in our post-Photoshop existence.For Anderson’s book to work he needed an artist that knew how to indulge in pleasant grotesqueries. And since Stephen Gammell has long been out of the business of creepy, Yelchin makes a fascinating substitute. So let’s examine exactly what happens when you read this book. You open it up and encounter a series of illustrations that remind you, possibly, of the works of Brian Selznick. Yet for all that they are cinematic in scope and done in black and white, Yelchin’s art here is almost the anti-Selznick. Where Brian luxuriates in bringing forth subtle curves through the most delicate of crosshatches, Yelchin appears to have channeled Hieronymus Bosch by way of Terry Gilliam. And as I mentioned before, Selznick’s art is all about trust. The young reader trusts that if they pay attention to the art in his books, they’ll be able to solve the mysteries hidden in his words. I suspect that Anderson and Yelchin are playing with readers’ past experience with Selznickian books. If this book had been done as a graphic novel, it simply couldn’t have worked quite as well. Sure, there are plenty of comics where the art is filtered through an unreliable narrator’s perceptions, but when you do it through a book that is made up entirely of sequential art then you’ve no chance to surprise the reader later on. Whatever you may call this book (I think “illustrated novel” suits it best) the format fits the telling.When I go into a review of a book I like to do so cold, without having seen anything that might influence my opinions of the piece. Usually. When I am stumped, however, I’ll grasp at anything that might possibly help me in my interpretation. Take the art of this book, for example. What . . . what is it, exactly? I saw that my edition of the book included a little conversation between Anderson and Yelchin and I figured maybe they’d let slip what it is that Yelchin’s doing here. No dice, though they do have a nice debate over whether or not the book invokes the works of Faxian and Herodotus or John le Carre (the jury is still out on that one). Likewise, Anderson discusses how it is “a tragic meditation on how societies that have been trained to hate each other for generations can actually come to see eye to eye” while Yelchin calls it “A laugh-out-loud misadventure of two fools blinded by ideology and propaganda.” All righty then. This is probably the best explanation of what’s going on here that I could come up with. Yet for a book like this to work you need to get beyond clever details and grand gestures. You need heart and maybe a little soul. And to my infinite relief, I found both.Because for all that this book is visual Pop Rockets to the old eye sockets, it’s the relationship between Spurge and Werfel that props everything up. At the start of the tale Werfel (who is rather adorable) is just so giddy with the prospect of meeting Spurge that he imagines a glorious future where the two of them talk about his favorite things. “Finally: contact with the enemy. With another scholar. With someone else who loved antiquity and beautiful things, and who shared his hope for this beleaguered world.” When Spurge misinterprets everything he sees and rebuffs Werfel’s attempts at friendship, the goblin scholar sours on his guest. Yet their fates are tied closely to one another and slowly Werfel is able to peel away the skin of his guest’s prejudices with sheer kindness. My favorite part of the book is the moment when the two finally start to bond by “pretending to make friendly reading suggestions to each other while actually just trying to make the other feel stupid. It was the best evening either of them had enjoyed in a very long time.” By the time you get to the end of the book, the relationship is sealed, and you, the reader, are glad of it.I’ve often said that the best way to get kids to read about adults having adventures is to turn them into furry woodland creatures (see: Redwall). But making your characters mythical creatures works just as well in the end. Anderson has always flirted with his love of fantasy, though until now it was mostly relegated to his Norumbegan Quartet. Here he takes a deep dive into a full-fledged fantasy world. I admired many of his choices along the way. For example, it would have been so easy for both Anderson and Yelchin to have given the goblins a free pass in this book. So maligned in the works of Tolkien and subsequent Tolkien imitators, the twist of making them more sympathetic than the elves is sweet. What upsets the applecart a bit is the fact that while the goblins may be more open-minded than the elves, they are also living in a police state with ruler so strange that I’m still trying to find a metaphorical or real-world equivalent to his Mighty Ghohg. Methinks I’m barking up the wrong tree with that, though. Methinks.As strange as this may seem, the book that this reminded me the most of was the series of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics by Gene Luen Yang. Those books spend much of their time examining at length the intricacies of deconstructing an oppressive colonial system in a fantasy world, something that this book only touches on lightly. Yet even so, we live in a post-colonial world (for the most part). Colonialism didn’t go that well, and post-colonialism was botched in a variety of interesting and horrible ways. Which brings us to America in 2018, the year of this book’s publication. For kids reading this book today, a title that discusses prejudices born out of (often willful) ignorance coupled with warmongering and malicious leaders . . . golly, is there anything here that will speak to them? I won’t lie. This book will take some work to get through for some kids. Even dyed-in-the-wool comic book readers may stumble a little initially at the unfamiliar art style. But there will be a cadre of kids that stick with it. Kids that find the story of scholars in fantasy realms fascinating. And those kids are the ones that will cut through the treacle and figure out what this book is actually trying to say. I’d wager good money that more kids will get it than adults. A fascinating blend of the wholly original and what is normally overly familiar, Anderson and Yelchin are having way too much fun here. It shouldn’t be allowed. And I sure am glad that it was. For ages 10 and up.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge takes me back to the whimsy and invention of classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, Willy Wonky, and The Yellow Submarine. A comedy of etiquette errors, of historical hilarities… it’s been a long time since I genuinely laughed out loud while reading a book. I might have snorted once or twice (no witnesses). It’s easy for me to say that Yeltsin’s iconic art style and Anderson’s wit make this one an instant classic in YA fantasy literature.For my full review: ht The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge takes me back to the whimsy and invention of classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, Willy Wonky, and The Yellow Submarine. A comedy of etiquette errors, of historical hilarities… it’s been a long time since I genuinely laughed out loud while reading a book. I might have snorted once or twice (no witnesses). It’s easy for me to say that Yeltsin’s iconic art style and Anderson’s wit make this one an instant classic in YA fantasy literature.For my full review: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/09/03/th...For all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog
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  • Gianna
    January 1, 1970
    I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Historian elf Brangwain Spurge has a very clear mission: travel to the land of goblins and present their King, a dark and mysterious alien, with a mighty present. Goblin archivist Werfel has his own mission: he is Spurge's host, and he's determined to please his guest and assist him in any way possible. Although things should have been very simple, those two will get in a lot of trouble. Facing hi I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Historian elf Brangwain Spurge has a very clear mission: travel to the land of goblins and present their King, a dark and mysterious alien, with a mighty present. Goblin archivist Werfel has his own mission: he is Spurge's host, and he's determined to please his guest and assist him in any way possible. Although things should have been very simple, those two will get in a lot of trouble. Facing hilarious, strange, and sometimes dangerous situations, the two scholars will struggle to ,like each other- but it's not so easy! Goblins and elves don't really get along; and that is pretty obvious from their countries' state of politics. Wars have already happened between them, and hate is strong between the two races. But maybe the two of them can learn more form each other than they have ever learned from their history books. Could they really be more similar than they are different?A story built expertly around two magical kingdoms, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is a witty, hilarious story full of adventure, action and laughter. But aside form the exceptional world building and the lovable characters (yes, you even get to love the grumpy elf historian in the end), what is most important about this book is what the authors have managed addressing: this is a very intelligent satire revolving around politics, racism, and the results of propaganda and intolerance towards other cultures. Did you think that this wouldn't be possible in a children's book? Well, think again, because the authors have managed to fit it all in; in fact they have done so in such a way, that the story never stops being funny or interesting at the same time! Through the difficult and strange relationship an elf and a goblin develop, we manage to see it all - and this makes the book an exceptional read for all children and teenagers.Accompanied by exceptional illustrations, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is an intelligent, pleasant read, fit for children and teenagers, as well as for adults. This is an enjoyable story, definitely recommended for everyone.
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  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    gripping to the point of almost unputdownable. It's a long book, but with many interspersed sequences of illustrations that carry the story forwards, which make it a faster read. I might have given it a fifth star, except that my heart was too sad for the Goblin Historian, who was the so good intentioned host of the visiting elf historian, Brangwain Spurge. Even though it is a hopeful ending, all his nice life was destroyed and he didn't deserve it.
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  • Marta Boksenbaum
    January 1, 1970
    What a very strange book. I did enjoy it.
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely adored this book. So unique and the illustrations add to the story in such a unique and entertaining way.
  • Munro's Kids
    January 1, 1970
    Boy did I enjoy this book. It was so weird and different and totally bizarre, that I wasn't really sure how I would feel about it, so I approached the thing with trepidation.For starters, there is the title, which I can safely say I will never have memorized. Next, there are the illustrations, which are almost Boschian in their grotesqueness and weirdness (especially at the beginning).But I was wrong to worry, because it was GREAT. The writing was funny and interesting. The plot was excellent, a Boy did I enjoy this book. It was so weird and different and totally bizarre, that I wasn't really sure how I would feel about it, so I approached the thing with trepidation.For starters, there is the title, which I can safely say I will never have memorized. Next, there are the illustrations, which are almost Boschian in their grotesqueness and weirdness (especially at the beginning).But I was wrong to worry, because it was GREAT. The writing was funny and interesting. The plot was excellent, and I gobbled it up in a day and a half. The illustrations were bizarre, but so so wonderful in how they functioned to interact with the test. If you want to know why, then bear with me...The premise is that Brangwain Spurge is an elf who has been sling-shotted over to the Goblin Empire to return a jeweled historical goblin artifact that has just been dug up. It is meant to be a peace offering as the two kingdoms have been at war for one thousand years. Goblin archivist Werfel is there to meet Spurge and act as his protector and host for the visit. Werfel takes his job extremely (comically) seriously, and stakes his honour, reputation and life on the line in order to keep his guest safe as custom strictly details. What Werfel and the rest of the goblins don't know is that Spurge is a spy and sends home images from his brain of what he is seeing to the elves. This is where the illustrations come in. Those grotesque drawings are Spurge's interpretation for the elves of what he is seeing. The mis-match between them and the narrative from Werfel's point of view is sometimes telling, sometimes hilarious, and often nail-biting. The depiction of people and events also shifts as Spurge's character develops during the course of the novel...Oh, and don't even get me started on the chief spy-master figure. Just so perfectly pompous and awful and hilarious.All this said, I really don't know who this book is for. Is it too dark for middle school kids? Too simple for high school? Please (someone) read this thing and give me a second opinion!-Kirsten
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  • Pop Bop
    January 1, 1970
    Like A Medieval Graphic NovelThis is so copiously illustrated that it almost qualifies as a graphic novel. And the text is light enough to feel modern, but just formal enough that it doesn't clash with the illustrations. The illustrations look like medieval woodcuts and, if you're willing to be a bit fanciful, wouldn't be out of place in a copy of "The Divine Comedy" or some sacred monastic volume. The result is unique and entertaining. (Of note, the drawings don't illustrate the text narrative. Like A Medieval Graphic NovelThis is so copiously illustrated that it almost qualifies as a graphic novel. And the text is light enough to feel modern, but just formal enough that it doesn't clash with the illustrations. The illustrations look like medieval woodcuts and, if you're willing to be a bit fanciful, wouldn't be out of place in a copy of "The Divine Comedy" or some sacred monastic volume. The result is unique and entertaining. (Of note, the drawings don't illustrate the text narrative. They appear in brief sequences and substitute for text. So the single story is told in words, then pictures, then words, then pictures. The effect is a bit unnerving but intriguing.) That said, we do start very slowly. An "expendable" elf academic, Spurge, is sent to a neighboring goblin kingdom, with which the elves have a long history of warfare, to deliver a gift to the goblin king. Spurge is hosted by a goblin scholar, Warfel. The elf is supercilious and condescending. The goblin Warfel is a good-hearted fellow who is both duty bound and honestly excited to be guiding this esteemed elfin visitor. There are lots of coy, arch and precious bits about elves. There are even more heavyhanded jokes at the expense of the supposedly boorish goblins. A few chapters in I began to wonder how this story could develop into anything more than a clever, but one note, comedy of manners. (At one point a high born goblin family hosts the elf at a banquet at which the goblins try to recreate elfin food, dress and entertainment, and the whole failed enterprise is more painful than amusing.) At best, would this end up just being a rather obvious political parable?But wait, NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS, but at this point the tale changes its stripes. The elf has secrets and a hidden purpose that is hidden even from him. Through a variety of misadventures Spurge and Warfel end up on the run and, surrounded as they are by schemers and political toadies, they are revealed as the only noble and innocent characters. They also begin to develop as rather appealing personalities in their own right rather than just placeholders. While on the run the two encounter new and very interesting regions of the goblin kingdom. They have many hair raising escapades, close calls, and in-the-nick-of-time escapes. All of this speeds up more and more until the socko and very satisfying ending.The upshot is that a clever but vaguely lifeless comedy of manners becomes a very engaging adventure buddy comedy. And, as Spurge and Warfel grow in substance and appeal, the jokes that fell flat at the beginning of the book, (a goblin expresses affection for another goblin by insulting him), take on life and charm, (as when Spurge and Warfel insult each other while awaiting execution). By the end the reader has been rewarded with a unique, entertaining, and very cleverly constructed treat about not just politics, but also even more about friendship. A nice find.(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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  • Jenni
    January 1, 1970
    Goblins and Elves have been at war for thousands of years but all that is about to change. Historian Brangwain Spurge is sent to give a rare artifact to the Goblin King as a token of peace. The Order of the Clean Hand (an Elvin Spy ring) gives Spurge a second mission: Find the Well of Lightning (the source of Goblin magic) and learn how it works.Brangwain Spurge agrees to both missions and leaves with the gift to meet Archivist Werfel and the Goblin King. Werfel does his best to make Spurge comf Goblins and Elves have been at war for thousands of years but all that is about to change. Historian Brangwain Spurge is sent to give a rare artifact to the Goblin King as a token of peace. The Order of the Clean Hand (an Elvin Spy ring) gives Spurge a second mission: Find the Well of Lightning (the source of Goblin magic) and learn how it works.Brangwain Spurge agrees to both missions and leaves with the gift to meet Archivist Werfel and the Goblin King. Werfel does his best to make Spurge comfortable but the elf complains about each activity. The food is too spicy, the museum is too gruesome and the opera is too loud! Spurge just wants to meet the king, give him this gift and get this over with!What Spurge does not know is that his gift is really a bomb that will kill both him and the goblin king!                Will Spurge and Werfel learn about the bomb before it's too late?                Can Spurge escape detection?                Will war be avoided?                Will Spurge and Werfel ever learn to see things eye to eye?                Read and find out!This book is half anti-war fantasy and half graphic novel... It's like a strange mix of the storyline of a Studio Ghibli movie (I'm thinking Howls Moving Castle not Secret World of Arrietty), the art of Chris Riddle (illustrator of the Edge books -- I still call them Santiphrax) and the humor of a Lemony Snicket (Series of Unfortunate Events) book. The story is funny but it has some heart.Some of my favorite lines are when Spurge and Werfel are running for their lives:“How can an apology be enough? It’s nothing but air! Air weights nothing. Your words mean nothing and no one is coming to save us!”Spurge agrees, “They call me the weed for a reason. A weed is a plant no one wants.”“Those who really know plants never call anything a weed. Because each plant has special, secret uses. Every weed is a treasure to those who know them.”The story might be too dark (or violent) for many middle-readers but as an adult who loves MG and YA novels, I loved the book and would recommend it to friends.
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  • Tasha
    January 1, 1970
    The goblins and elves have found peace after a long war. Brangwain Spurge, an elf who studies goblin history, is catapulted into the goblin kingdom to deliver a gift to the strange being who rules the goblins. He is hosted there by Werfel, a goblin who studies elven history. Werfel is delighted to host Spurge, but that soon changes as Spurge is cantankerous, judgmental and hates everything goblin. He even detests an elven feast put on in his honor. Werfel also discovers that Brangwain is actuall The goblins and elves have found peace after a long war. Brangwain Spurge, an elf who studies goblin history, is catapulted into the goblin kingdom to deliver a gift to the strange being who rules the goblins. He is hosted there by Werfel, a goblin who studies elven history. Werfel is delighted to host Spurge, but that soon changes as Spurge is cantankerous, judgmental and hates everything goblin. He even detests an elven feast put on in his honor. Werfel also discovers that Brangwain is actually a spy, sending messages in images back to the elves. As the political intrigue grows, readers discover that Spurge is being used by his own government to start a new war, one that the elves will have the upper hand in thanks to duping him. But never doubt the ability of Spurge to ruin a solid plan!What a pairing of master storytellers! Anderson writes the clever text, showing Werfel’s point of view and delighting in the slapstick comedy moments, the clashing of two cultures, and the dangers of hosting a guest. Meanwhile, Yelchin tells Spurge’s side of the tale through sly images alone, depicting what Spurge is sending back to the elves. The tales of course do not match and yet the also work together to tell a more complete story of misunderstandings, biases and prejudice more fully than words ever could.The political pieces of the tale are particularly well drawn, showing how forces at work are not really in charge but may just be playground bullies who are being bullied themselves. The focus on differences and similarities is cleverly crafted into the story with the finale strengthening the connection and leaving no doubt that change is possible.A timely look at political intrigue and getting beyond what holds us apart with plenty of humor to make it a delight. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
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  • Rosemary
    January 1, 1970
    Elitist elf (is that an oxymoron?) historian Brangwain Spurge has a mission: go into goblin territory and deliver a gift - a peace offering - from the elf king to the goblin king. Oh, and he's also supposed to spy on the kingdom, transmitting his thoughts back to the elves so they can get an elf's-eye view of everything. He's shot off in a large barrel, and invited to the home of goblin archivist Werfel, who extends every hospitality to Spurge, who is a culturally insensitive, rude, bumbling boo Elitist elf (is that an oxymoron?) historian Brangwain Spurge has a mission: go into goblin territory and deliver a gift - a peace offering - from the elf king to the goblin king. Oh, and he's also supposed to spy on the kingdom, transmitting his thoughts back to the elves so they can get an elf's-eye view of everything. He's shot off in a large barrel, and invited to the home of goblin archivist Werfel, who extends every hospitality to Spurge, who is a culturally insensitive, rude, bumbling boob. Naturally, Spurge bungles his spying mission, setting off a cross-kingdom incident that leaves Werfel and Spurge running for their lives, and at one another's mercies.This brilliant socio-political comedy of errors is hilariously told by National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson and illustrated by Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, and mixes action and adventure with a tale of friendship, culture clash, and intrigue. Eugene Yelchin's mixed media, black and white illustrations let readers see what Spurge transmits back to his kingdom, but Anderson's text lets us know that things aren't exactly what they seem. So who's telling the truth? Well... truth is in the eye of the beholder; something we learn as Spurge's world seems to grow under the long-suffering Werfel's guidance. There are false assumptions on each side that need to be cleared up, but Brangwain Spurge refuses to see the black marks on elf history, no matter how clear Werfel states it. After all, history is written by the victors.It isn't until Spurge creates an incident that puts his, and his host's, lives in danger that he understands how words and memories can be manipulated. The two share a mutual love of books, and it's there that they find common ground on which to build a relationship. That, and the fact that they need each other to survive. Want kids to understand Fake News? Put this book in their hands.The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is a National Book Award longlist nominee, and has starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and The Horn Book.
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  • Emmy
    January 1, 1970
    This was an amazing book! A real treat! I can't wait for it to be published so I can get my hands on a physical copy!When it comes to reading fantasy, I can be super-picky. I don't think a lot of high fantasy. I don't want a ton of romance. And heaven forbid it gets too political! I say "no" to fairies, am iffy on elves, and I certainly don't want some big dramatic tale stuffed to the gills with Mary Sue and Marty Stu.My ideas of what makes excellent fantasy are very particular. And there are on This was an amazing book! A real treat! I can't wait for it to be published so I can get my hands on a physical copy!When it comes to reading fantasy, I can be super-picky. I don't think a lot of high fantasy. I don't want a ton of romance. And heaven forbid it gets too political! I say "no" to fairies, am iffy on elves, and I certainly don't want some big dramatic tale stuffed to the gills with Mary Sue and Marty Stu.My ideas of what makes excellent fantasy are very particular. And there are only a handful of fantasy authors that I absolutely devour. Lately, my favorite has been Walter Moers. And wouldn't you know that this read so much like a Moers book? It was almost uncanny. Obviously, it wasn't quite the same, but the combination of a perfectly written story coupled with detailed illustrations was just what I needed!This is not a little book. Yes, it's illustrated but it's still 544 pages. And I read it in three days. I couldn't put it down (which was tricky, since it was an ARC that I was reading on my computer, but somehow I managed)!I was instantly drawn in because of the hilarious plot. Two neighboring kingdoms (Elves and Goblins) are at war, so when the Elves find a Goblin artifact on the castle grounds, they decide to send historian Brangwain Spurge to deliver it. Meanwhile, Goblin archivist, Werfel is excitedly preparing himself or his new guest, making sure that everything will be comfortable for the Elf's stay. However, from the start, things go wrong. Spurge is a spy, sending back secret illustrated messages to his people back home. He's also cold, somewhat snooty, and not interested in making friends with a bunch of goblins, obliviously causing disaster after political disaster, and leaving Werfel to pick up the pieces in his wake.What makes this story so special is the balance between the illustration and what actually happens. (view spoiler)[You can see how Spurge's interpretations change as the story goes on. Werfel gets smaller and cuter each time you see him, the goblins become less grotesque, and Spurge himself seems less and less grandiose with each illustration. Looking at the images from when Werfel is first introduced until the end, it's amazing to think that both illustrations are of the same character! (hide spoiler)] I'm all for books having pictures, as long as the pictures contribute to the reading experience. I love that in this story, they not only contribute to the experience, but to the story as well. In fact, they are almost indispensable, which makes things even more fun!All in all, an excellent read, and one that I would highly recommend, from young teens to adults. Also recommended for fans of Walter Moers. (And vice versa).
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  • Theresa Milstein
    January 1, 1970
    When I saw this in my school librarian's office, I knew I had to drop everything and read it. This middle grade didn't disappoint! Anderson's wit, humor, and irony is here in spades, along with illustrations that perfectly match the voice of the story. In this novel, elves and trolls have battled on and off a thousand years--and it's led to fear, accusations, losses, and hate. It soon becomes clear that leaders on both sides aren't exactly kind to their own people and there's little reason to be When I saw this in my school librarian's office, I knew I had to drop everything and read it. This middle grade didn't disappoint! Anderson's wit, humor, and irony is here in spades, along with illustrations that perfectly match the voice of the story. In this novel, elves and trolls have battled on and off a thousand years--and it's led to fear, accusations, losses, and hate. It soon becomes clear that leaders on both sides aren't exactly kind to their own people and there's little reason to believe they're playing fair with the other side. When the elf, Spurge, must be launched into Troll territory to bring a gift his host, Werfel, is hopeful this will a chance for new beginning. But Spurge couldn't be less agreeable and looks down at everything troll. Instead of a chance at peace, cultural misunderstandings and secrets bring them both into greater and greater danger. If they can't understand each other, what hope is there for the rest of society? Important message and a fantastic read!
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    To all of my friends on Goodreads, "you clammy sweaty pedants" (how Goblins talk to their friends), put aside all your other books and read this immediately!Brilliant and very very funny, this collaboration between Anderson and Yelchin is a joyful challenge to readers everywhere. Can societal perceptions be trusted? Can we even trust the ones we form as eye-witnesses? As academics? As Open-Hearted Deliberately Culturally Sensitive (dare I say Liberal) Observers? And wait - what about those pesky To all of my friends on Goodreads, "you clammy sweaty pedants" (how Goblins talk to their friends), put aside all your other books and read this immediately!Brilliant and very very funny, this collaboration between Anderson and Yelchin is a joyful challenge to readers everywhere. Can societal perceptions be trusted? Can we even trust the ones we form as eye-witnesses? As academics? As Open-Hearted Deliberately Culturally Sensitive (dare I say Liberal) Observers? And wait - what about those pesky Unreliable Narrators?Thought-provoking in the best sort of way for me - a deeply interesting exploration of an fascinating theme wrapped in a gem of story. Part John Cleese, part inverted Tolkien, part Hieronymus Bosch. I needed more stars to award here. I LOVED this - every word, every intricate sketch, and I cannot wait to share it. Don't hesitate to hand it to high schoolers. Savvy middle schoolers will get it but it has an 7-12 grade feel to me.
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  • Clarissa
    January 1, 1970
    This was an amazing book! The illustrations are beautiful, the writing is wonderful, and the story is funny and exciting.The elves and the goblins have been at war for hundreds of years. There has been peace for three years, but everyone in both sides is angry about the deaths of their friends and family members during the war. The elves send historian Brangwain Spurge to bring a gift to the goblins, a fantastic gemstone carved with scene of battle, as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.The st This was an amazing book! The illustrations are beautiful, the writing is wonderful, and the story is funny and exciting.The elves and the goblins have been at war for hundreds of years. There has been peace for three years, but everyone in both sides is angry about the deaths of their friends and family members during the war. The elves send historian Brangwain Spurge to bring a gift to the goblins, a fantastic gemstone carved with scene of battle, as a gesture of goodwill and friendship.The story is told in three parts. One part is the narration of Werful the goblin archivist, one part is letters from Ysoret Clivers the head of the elvin secret police, and one part is the images that Brangwain Spurge sends back to the elves from us mind. The three parts together tell a story of cultural misunderstanding, and the gradual growth of friendship between the elf and the goblin.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This is a rather unique story and also rather amusing. For me, part of the jumor stems from the fact that there is a stereotype reversal. Werfel, a goblin, is honorable and polite. Brangwain Spurge, an elf, is conceited and self absorbed. Werfel hosts Spurge when Spurge is sent with an artifact to give to the goblin king. But Spurge is also sent with an ulterior motive: he is to spy on the goblins. The point of view of the story is split three ways. Letters from the Elvin Spymaster to the King, This is a rather unique story and also rather amusing. For me, part of the jumor stems from the fact that there is a stereotype reversal. Werfel, a goblin, is honorable and polite. Brangwain Spurge, an elf, is conceited and self absorbed. Werfel hosts Spurge when Spurge is sent with an artifact to give to the goblin king. But Spurge is also sent with an ulterior motive: he is to spy on the goblins. The point of view of the story is split three ways. Letters from the Elvin Spymaster to the King, third person narrative, then sections of illustrations which serve as Spurge's Top Secret Transmissions back to the Spymaster. It may help the reader to know ahead of time that the images are Spurge's biased point of view, and at times they contradict the narrative.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    The alternation of chapters of text and chapters of images made it a little hard for me to follow, as I am well known as face-blind and incapable of following action in graphic novels. Luckily the author eased us into it, with overlapping events at first and a discussion of the inaccuracies in the pictures that also told me what I was meant to notice (I am sure any kids reading the book did not have my problem -- I'm certifiably really bad at graphics).The differences in perception was a very in The alternation of chapters of text and chapters of images made it a little hard for me to follow, as I am well known as face-blind and incapable of following action in graphic novels. Luckily the author eased us into it, with overlapping events at first and a discussion of the inaccuracies in the pictures that also told me what I was meant to notice (I am sure any kids reading the book did not have my problem -- I'm certifiably really bad at graphics).The differences in perception was a very interesting theme, and the adventures kept me reading, but I was a bit put off by the lack of any heroes and the paucity of females. One villain was a viewpoint character, Spurge started very low, and even Werfel was acquiescent in the evils of his society.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    This collaboration between Anderson and Eugene Yelchin was simply not my cup of tea. It's getting a lot of attention and already has at least one starred review. It's sort-of funny, and sort-of has a message about who gets to write history, but I found the whole thing a bit boring and I did not like the style of the artwork. Professional reviews compare this to Lord of the Rings and those reviewers should really know better. A story that involves a journey and characters that are elves does not This collaboration between Anderson and Eugene Yelchin was simply not my cup of tea. It's getting a lot of attention and already has at least one starred review. It's sort-of funny, and sort-of has a message about who gets to write history, but I found the whole thing a bit boring and I did not like the style of the artwork. Professional reviews compare this to Lord of the Rings and those reviewers should really know better. A story that involves a journey and characters that are elves does not automatically make it anything like the Lord of the Rings. Some will enjoy it, but as I said, it's not my cup of tea. Review from e-galley.
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  • Dawn Abron
    January 1, 1970
    So this is middle grade and I knew that going in but it is an NBA nomination and I like Anderson's writing.There is a STRONG message of warfare wrapped in a humorous story. Goblins are usually described as gross while elves are happy and somewhat cute. Anderson turned this on it's head and I appreciated this because this easily could have been a metaphor for any race or religion that's constantly viewed as bad/dangerous. It is a bit long but then again, I read an ARC and the pages were thick. Th So this is middle grade and I knew that going in but it is an NBA nomination and I like Anderson's writing.There is a STRONG message of warfare wrapped in a humorous story. Goblins are usually described as gross while elves are happy and somewhat cute. Anderson turned this on it's head and I appreciated this because this easily could have been a metaphor for any race or religion that's constantly viewed as bad/dangerous. It is a bit long but then again, I read an ARC and the pages were thick. There are also some beautiful and cringe-inducing illustrations that will entertain the young. I see this to be a strong contender of the NBA.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this unique weird little gem about the meeting of an archivist goblin with an historian elf who have the weight of their feuding kingdoms riding on the success or failure of their interaction. Funny detailed worldbuilding told in alternating pictures and text that emphasizes the fact that perspective is everything.
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  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    I was surprised by how much I liked this book.Using illustrations and text to present conflicting narratives is a very clever idea, especially given the plot of this story.And yet this tale has life to it. It is MUCH more than mere scaffold for a witty storytelling exercise.
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  • Brenda Kahn
    January 1, 1970
    This is a rollicking rollercoaster of satirical, sly fun. The art is utterly brilliant. I cannot wait to reread the finished book and share it with my students.
  • Keitha
    January 1, 1970
    A very readable and enjoyable M.T. Anderson story. The illustrations are excellent as well.
  • Ruth
    January 1, 1970
    A totally original read.
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I will be featuring Tobin and Eugene on my blog on September 6th at https://dulemba.blogspot.com/2018/09/... - do have a look at this fantastic new adventure!
  • Felicia Allen
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really fun adventure novel. Elves and goblins hate each other. Bragwain is sent by his elf king to get historical information about the goblins. The Order of the Clean Hand gives him a gift for the goblin's king. Through a series of misadventures, Bragwain befriends Werfel the goblin historian and they end up going on an adventure of more misfortunes. This book was funny, and I love the illustrations. The world that the author created is believable and unique. I love the depth of deta This was a really fun adventure novel. Elves and goblins hate each other. Bragwain is sent by his elf king to get historical information about the goblins. The Order of the Clean Hand gives him a gift for the goblin's king. Through a series of misadventures, Bragwain befriends Werfel the goblin historian and they end up going on an adventure of more misfortunes. This book was funny, and I love the illustrations. The world that the author created is believable and unique. I love the depth of detail in the setting and the characters.
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